Archaeologists were stunned to find evidence of a 7,000-year-old railway system in the back garden of Mr & Mrs Joly-Bumblefrippari on the outskirts of Widdlehole last month.
The local Boy Scouts were helping in a back garden dig for a popular TV Archaeology show, and discovered what appears to be a series of parallel rows of monoliths running for hundreds of metres. The stones, which are laid end-to-end, form the obvious basis of a primitive tramway system.
“The position of these huge granite stones is unlike anything we’ve ever seen from this period,” said Professor Doug Deaper, from the South Devon Scouts Association, who led the investigation.
“At first I assumed they had fallen this way, perhaps having been originally set out in a circle as is normal for most structures and monuments for this period. But when we looked at the geophysical survey of the area, we found that the stones ran for 2km in an almost-straight line.”
Closer examination of the stones revealed groove marks where either wooden or stone wheels may have carried carts of quarried stone, wood and other vital resources between settlements. Further lab testing found traces of animal fat around the grooves, which may have been used to grease the chassis of carts.
“These amateur back-yard excavations have already unearthed numerous remarkable finds, but this is the most astonishing of the lot,” said Rob Anidea, editor of Metal Detecting Today magazine. “If confirmed, this will transform our understanding of Stone Age Britain and may offer a radical new solution to the mystery of how the creators of Stonehenge transported the giant megaliths that make up the monument.”
So far, only one stone inscription has been identified at the site, bearing a simple warning in Ogham Script. It appears to read (loosely translated), “Beware the gap”.